NEWSLETTER ISSUE 69 - NOVEMBER 2013
Follow us at the COP19 in Warsaw, Poland, this November!
The Greens will be in Warsaw at the UN Climate negotiations from 14th to 24th November and are organising a series of events and activities. Follow our Green representative Bas Eickhout on twitter @BasEickhout and our climate campaign @greens_climate. Regular blog posts and pictures will be published on our climate website and our Facebook page.
GREEN EYE ON THE EU'S CLIMATE EFFORT
- European Parliament's position on the next UN climate change negotiations
- The Greens/EFA support the Arctic 30 activists detained in Russia
- EU environment ministers call for action on climate
- New report shows Poland would be better off without coal
- French Greens get ready for 2015 UN climate conference in Paris
ROUND-UP - CLIMATE NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
- New IPCC leaked document projects serious food crisis
- UNEP new Emissions gap report confirms that more effort to cut emissions is urgently needed
- Canada likely to miss its emissions reduction target for 2020
- Greenland wants to allow uranium & rare earths mining
- Could China show more flexibility at the next UN climate negotiations?
- Calendar of some key events in November
GREEN EYE ON THE EU'S CLIMATE EFFORT
European Parliament's position on the next UN climate change negotiations
At the end of October Members of the European Parliament voted on the European Parliament position on the forthcoming UN climate talks in Warsaw. The Greens demanded that the EU moves to a 30% greenhouse gas reduction target for 2020 and for a 2030 reduction target of at least 50% compared to 1990 levels. Unfortunately these calls were removed by a majority of MEPs in favour of vague wording on the recognition of EU ability to lead being determined by the ambition of its own policies.
The EU will have a huge responsibility in the next 24 months, given that the final UN Climate agreement will have to be agreed upon in Paris at the end of 2015.
However, despite the watering down of the provisions on EU action, the European Parliament's final decision remains ambitious for the global deal in 2015, which is why the Greens voted in favour.
The Greens/EFA support the Arctic 30 activists detained in Russia
The Arctic 30 environmental activists and journalists are still being detained on spurious charges in Russia.
At the plenary in October, deputies debated the situation. The Greens ask that the EU does more to ensure the Russian authorities immediately release those detained, with their incarceration little more than a political stunt by the regime. The group is also calling on the EU's foreign policy high representative Catherine Ashton to directly intervene in this matter.
The latest 'Emission Gap report' from the UNEP confirms that there is no time to lose for the world to cut its carbon emissions and turn away from fossil energy sources. The actions of the Arctic30 activists and journalists came in response to wider questions about Arctic policy and the huge environmental risks of nascent resource extraction plans, following melting sea ice. Instead of encouraging a free-for-all, EU member states should lead efforts to protect this sensitive environment.
EU environment ministers call for action on climate
At the end of October, thirteen European environment ministers warned that the EU might risk falling behind the rest of the world if it does not adopt ambitious energy and climate goals for 2030.
In a 40-page document, they also called on the 28-nation bloc to reform the EU's Emissions Trading System (ETS). They also encouraged the EU to push the development of renewable energy sources further in order to catch up with the US and China, which perceive this sector as a big opportunity.
However, despite several ministers agreeing on the need for action, they differ on the detail. The Greens have called for three different targets for 2030; a climate target as well as targets for renewables and energy efficiency.
The Commission is to present a proposal on the issue in the coming weeks. EU leaders are to discuss the proposals at a Brussels summit in March, ahead of a September 2014 summit hosted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, where the greens want the EU to be ambitious and speak with one voice.
* Not really familiar with the EU ETS/ Carbon Market? Download our green leaflet on the subject here.
New report shows Poland would be better off without coal
A new report by researchers in Germany and Poland, renewable energy groups and environmental group Greenpeace, showed that Poland could halve its coal consumption and quadruple its renewable energy use by 2030 at little additional cost.
The authors advise Poland to aim for 26.8% renewable energy use by 2030, while stepping up use of other green technologies such as smart grids and electric cars. And to aim for 88% by 2050.This would increase electricity costs by 0.2 euro cents per kilo watt hour in the period to 2020 but would cut prices from 2040, saving consumers 3.6c/kWh by 2050. The report also explains that new jobs would be created in the energy sector, with an additional 40,000 employees in 2030 compared with a business-as-usual scenario.
Poland often defends its reliance on coal because of energy security. However, these claims are not justified as Poland is a net importer of coal. It is therefore in its interest to make efforts to improve energy efficiency and push for an increase of renewable energy sources in its energy mix to be fully independent from its neighbours.
French Greens get ready for 2015 UN climate conference in Paris
On 19th October the French Greens organised a conference called 'New Initiatives for Europe' where participants discussed the issues of the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, to be held in the French capital in December 2015. Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Rajendra K. Pachauri came to present the fifth scientific assessment report by his expert group, urging the different countries to make further effort to reduce their CO2 emissions.
Despite some alarming figures, the French greens underlined several positive elements since the Copenhagen conference in 2009. They have hopes that US President Obama will be more active and ambitious on climate policy and underline the fact that China is now also considering the matter, if nothing else to preserve social peace in the country. Additionally, the US and China, who between themselves are responsible for half of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, have already agreed in June to reduce emissions of the HFC refrigerant, considered a "super greenhouse gas". Their project, which envisions a reduction of 90 billion tons of CO2 equivalent by 2050, was ratified by the G20 at the end of August. It is now key to focus on the potential benefits for each country of an ambitious climate pact.
This will be the first time a COP has taken place in France. Ministerial meetings will be held each month until December 2015 on the subject, with the minister of the environment, Philippe Martin, and the deputy minister for development, Pascal Canfin. The French National Assembly will also be involved in preparations and a briefing on climate change and adaptation will be launched.
* See the greens leaflet on the IPCC report here
ROUND-UP - CLIMATE NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
New IPCC leaked document projects serious food crisis
The next IPCC report on climate impacts should be released next March. A draft version of a major new climate report leaked in early November reveals that climate change will seriously threaten the world’s food supply in coming decades. According to the document from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), rising global temperatures and resulting weather extremes could undermine crop production and drive up prices at a time when the demand for food is expected to soar.
The findings - which were widely reported by major media outlets over the weekend - represent a significant departure from earlier, more hopeful assessments that estimated negative impacts on crops in some regions would be offset by increased production in other areas.
Scientists conclude that rising temperatures will make it harder for crops to thrive - with the potential to reduce overall production by as much as 2% each decade for the rest of this century. The leaked draft also warns against exacerbated threats to human health, such as malnutrition due to the unfolding food crisis, reduced labour productivity resulting from climate driven diseases, or even death and injury from extreme weather events.
These trends could also trigger spikes of violence in vulnerable regions as poverty, starvation and conflicts over food and water supplies grow. The leaked report also highlights several other impacts from worsening climate change expected to take its tool on biodiversity and the global economy.
This leaked new report demonstrates once again that strong, urgent and concerted action must be taken to modernize our economies, clean up our energy systems and phase out climate polluting emissions. With the latest round of UN climate talks to kick off in Poland on 11th November, the new warning puts further pressure on governments to make progress towards a global climate agreement in 2015.
UNEP new Emissions gap report confirms that more effort to cut emissions is urgently needed
In early November the UN Environment Programme published its latest 'Emissions gap report'. The 2013 edition confirms that an increasingly dangerous gap remains between where the world is and where it needs to be when it comes to reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions. At the moment a 8 to 12 gigatonne gap exists between the safe, target level of emissions that must be met by 2020, and the predicted level of global emissions.
However, while the report warns of the dangers of inaction, it also points to current progress and clear solutions that can get the world on track to closing the emissions gap. According to the report, energy efficiency efforts could cut two gigatonnes of carbon emissions from the atmosphere by 2020. The same is true if the world agrees to serious fossil fuel subsidy reform. Continued growth and investment in renewable energy could have the biggest impact, potentially cutting three gigatonnes out of the atmosphere by 2020. If these actions are taken along with other commitments, the dangerous emissions gap can be closed.
Clear, achievable solutions for cutting emissions do exist, but ambitious political leadership remains the missing piece. In a few days, negotiators are set to gather for the latest round of international climate talks. The conclusions of this report highlight that if these decision-makers bring increased ambition and willingness to cooperate to the negotiating table, then they have the opportunity and the tools they need to put the world on the path towards a safe, liveable climate.
Canada likely to miss its emissions reduction target for 2020
The Canadian environment ministry recently acknowledged that it will miss its target for greenhouse gas emissions by a wider margin than expected unless it takes further action to offset emissions in the oil industry. It estimates the country will produce 734 megatonnes (MT) of greenhouse gases in 2020, or 122 MT higher than its promised target. A year ago, the government expected it to be at 720 MT in 2020.
Further effort will therefore be needed for the country to meet the targets it agreed upon in the Copenhagen Accord in December 2009, where it committed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.
The government, which has introduced world-leading coal power regulations and harmonized with the United States on vehicle emissions regulations - has delayed plans to bring in regulations for the burgeoning oil and gas sector and lobbied heavily for the development of the Keystone XL pipeline, which will encourage production in the Alberta oil sands, a top emitter and which environmentalists have severely criticized.
Greenland wants to allow uranium & rare earths mining
With sea ice thawing and new Arctic shipping routes opening, more and more countries across the globe are showing interest in business opportunities in this region of the world.
At the end of October Greenland's parliament voted to end a decades-long prohibition on mining for materials like uranium and rare earth in the region, further opening up the country to investors from Australia and China eager to tap its vast mineral resources. Greenland's "zero tolerance" policy on mining radioactive materials was inherited from Denmark, but the island is now willing to develop mining to help pay for its welfare policies and jobs.
However, Denmark still has a say in security and defence issues and the uranium decision may need to be approved by the Danish parliament. According to some experts, the Danish government is prepared for the no-tolerance to be lifted. Mining could thus be allowed in the next year to year and a half.
Could china show more flexibility at the next UN climate negotiations
Xie Zhenhua, China's top climate change official, recently announced that the country is willing to be flexible at the next UN climate negotiations but only if richer nations keep pledges to fund mitigation steps by poorer countries and if the principle of 'common but differentiated responsibilities' is maintained. This principle means that developing nations would only be obliged to meet climate change pledges once funding from richer nations was in place.
However, China is also increasingly aware that furthering its efforts to limit and reduce CO2 emissions is in its own interest. The country is indeed facing very big difficulties with air pollution - which recently led to the shutdown of Harbin, a city of 11 million, in the northern part of the country. These increasing problems are putting growing pressure on China’s leadership to curb dirty power plants and cut emissions.
11-22 November: UN climate negotiations
Just before the COP 19 the Greens are organising a series of events and actions on climate in Brussels, Belgium, and Warsaw, Poland. Don't miss them!
14 November: Film Screening Drill, Baby, Drill (Warsaw)
15-16 November: Public conference (Warsaw) - Citizens' energy for a good climate
19-24 November: "COP 19 Climate Change Workshop: We’ll save Paris!" (Warsaw/Poland) orgnised by the FYEG